Stop this process diluting the FoIA, Amend the Freedom of Information Act to cover information held by government contractors providing public goods and services such as those that manage our roads.
Private companies like Amey, Balfour Beatty and Kier Highways receive millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money, but because they’re not subject to FOI we cannot properly hold them to account. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has yet to address a gaping hole in the legislation; the Act only applies to ‘Public Authorities’. Therefore, if an Authority sub-contracts works to a private business, much of the activity bypasses the legislation, is not open to the same scrutiny. In a 2019 report to Parliament ‘Outsourcing Oversight’, the Information Commissioner stated that ‘[t]he laws are no longer fit for purpose’ and urged that contractors should be brought under FOIA. Help this to occur: Sign the petition to address this – here
During the pandemic £10.5bn of government contracts were awarded without competitive tender and hundreds of millions was spent on “potentially unsuitable” PPE according to the National Audit Office, the spending watchdog. It also found that suppliers with political connections were 10 times more likely to receive government contracts. Read more here.
Support for bringing contractors under FOI has come from:
- The Information Commissioner, who enforces the FOI Act.
- The House of Commons Public Administration & Constitutional Affairs Committee
- The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee
- The Committee on Standards in Public Life
- The government appointed Independent Commission on Freedom of Information
- The UK Anti-Corruption Coalition, which brings together 18 of the UK’s leading anti-corruption organisations
- The Open Government Network of civil society organisations
To utilise the FoIA, consider the free service available at WhatDoTheyKnow.com which helps monitor the progress of requests and assists with responses/action.